All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
Every Muslim knows these words of the Prophet (PBUH). They were spoken by him (PBUH) on his last sermon. If you have a chance, read the entire sermon. It is truly inspiring and provides a concise summary on what is the most important. The sermon begins with the Prophet (PBUH) saying,
O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.
So one can gather from this introduction that the following words will carry significant meaning and will be applicable to Muslims for all of time. Indeed, the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) saw it fit that he (PBUH) mention Islam on racism so that future generations of Muslims could refer to this hadith to protect themselves from falling into its ugly trap.
Before the advent of Islam, like many other evils, racism too was rampant. When the Prophet (PBUH) went to Madinah, he was able to establish brotherhood between two tribes who had been at war for years (ie., Aws and Khazraj). Indeed, in the example of the Sunnah we have several famous Companions (May Allah Be Please with them) who were non-Arab such as, Bilal ibn Rabah (RA), Salman Al-Farsi (RA) and many others. Both the Companions (RA) mentioned held significant posts. Bilal (RA) was the muezzin and Salman Al-Farsi’s (RA) gave the idea of digging a trench to the Prophet (PBUH) during the Battle of the Trench/Battle of the Confederates (Al-Khandaq or Al-Ahzaab).
These two small examples demonstrates to us that race plays no part in Islam. These Companions are known for their deen and their relationship to the Prophet (PBUH). Islam on racism is quite clear when it says, “Oh men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware” (Quran 49:13).
Many Muslims today will know this final sermon hadith and the lives of these great non-Arab Companions (RA) but unfortunately will fail to practice. This has ultimately led to single nation mosques, where all the congregants are from the same geographic region, and the disapproval of mixed race marriages. What a disservice to both ourselves and Islam when we limit its diversity and growth. The only difference between one Muslim and the other is in piety and good action. Why do we limit ourselves or our children to individuals who are mediocre in their practice of Islam on the basis of socially constructed ideas of superiority? Become friends with and marry those who excel in their piety and good action regardless of their race. These are the people who will help you advance in your deen as well.
Let us not forget that the first sin committed against Allah (SWT) was that of Iblees’ arrogance. Iblees was commanded to prostrate to Adam by Allah (SWT) but he refused. Why? “He said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay” (38:76). Racism stems from arrogance and arrogance was first demonstrated by our sworn enemy, Iblees. Islam on racism is quite clear; it does not accept nor tolerate it. When will we take heed?
May Allah (SWT) protect us from projecting racism onto our fellow brothers and sisters.